The Rebels face the disappointing prospect of elimination from the playoffs after Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Prince Albert Raiders.
Red Deer lacked urgency, especially during the first two periods during game three, explained Head Coach and General Manager Brent Sutter.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t even close to how we played in P.A. tonight, and that’s too bad because it’s game three,” he said.
“I expected more from the group here tonight. And we just never got to the level of play you need at playoff time from a lot of guys in the room.”
The Rebels were up against a relentless team in the Raiders. With three of seven wins, they currently lead the WHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series.
Raiders Forward Noah Gregor found the back of the net at 1:09 in the first period. Forward Dante Hannoun followed that up with a goal at 13:22.
In his trademark style, Forward Brandon Hagel provided a needed burst of energy when he got the puck past Raiders Goalie Ian Scott at the beginning of the second period.
The Blackhawks prospect was recently named to the Eastern Conference Second All-Star Team.
With help from Goalie Ethan Anders, who “stood on his head,” according to Sutter, the rest of the second and much of the third period stayed at 2-1. Anders finished the game with 38 saves, compared to Scott’s 14.
“When you get only 14 shots on net, or whatever it was, you’re not winning the hockey game,” Sutter said. “And then you give up 40 plus, it wasn’t a great outing by us.”
The Raiders scored their last two goals in the final minutes.
“I didn’t think it was the best game at all,” said Captain Reese Johnson, who scored his team’s second goal in the third period. “We came out flat and in game three of the playoffs that’s unacceptable.
“Obviously, we can’t dwell on this loss because we need to win tomorrow — it’s do or die.”
Game four kicks off Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Centrium.